Police gains in Zoniana

Police searching the lawless mountain village of Zoniana in Crete yesterday discovered cannabis- and cocaine-processing workshops, large quantities of dynamite and cash machines that had been ripped out of bank walls. Hundreds of officers stepped up their investigation – in the wake of Monday’s bloody ambush of a police convoy by gun-toting locals – scouring homes, farmhouses and even caves for weapons and drugs. «Certain stages of the investigation are over and more are being planned,» said government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros. An initial examination of bank accounts indicates that some residents have deposits of between 2 and 5 million euros, sources said. Authorities said residents were more cooperative yesterday, boosting their efforts to trace the perpetrators of Monday’s attack that left three officers injured, one seriously. The 28-year-old officer shot in the neck on Monday remained in critical, but stable, condition yesterday. Nine people arrested in the aftermath of the attack have been charged with attempted murder, drug trafficking and possession of explosives. Police yesterday detained more residents for questioning as many locals complained that they were paying for the sins of a few criminals, most of whom are believed to have fled the village. «Those who deal in hashish are not scared and now we are mixed up in all this – why?» a woman whose husband was detained remarked to Kathimerini. Other residents said they welcomed plans by authorities to establish a permanent police presence at Zoniana. «We want it a thousand times more than they do,» an elderly resident said. Parliament is next week to probe alleged links between politicians and local criminal gangs. Asked yesterday about possible political links, Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki said, «I do not rule out possible links to politicians at all levels but further investigation is needed.»